On Pasture and New York Times Best Selling author Forrest Pritchard go way back. Not only has Rachel known Forrest for ages, but in 2013, both On Pasture and Forrest were just getting started writing for farmers and ranchers. In fact, in On Pasture’s first few months, we got to share excerpts from the very book that put Forrest on the best seller list, “Gaining Ground,” just as it was going to print. Two years later we shared the kick off of his second book, “Growing Tomorrow,” written with Molly Peterson. And Forrest even donated copies of the book to help the On Pasture fund drive.
Sharing Forrest’s stories and his books is one of the ways we support beginning farmers and ranchers. So we’re especially excited about his latest book, “Start Your Farm.” In it, Forrest draws from his own experiences, both good and bad, to lay out crucial steps toward success in a way that makes sense to new and beginning farmers. It’s coming out this fall, and here’s how he explains the story behind it.
“Two decades ago, when I decided to become a farmer, I set out with my heart afire, convinced I could save family’s rundown farm and make a real profit along the way. My office would be a green pasture, my window an open sky, and my coworkers cattle, sheep, and chickens. At twenty-two, I had no serious farming experience, and no background in business. But I had my hands, a strong back, and endless optimism. How could I possibly fail?
“Turns out, in about a thousand different ways. My first harvest—several hundred acres of GMO corn and soybeans—yielded less than twenty dollars of profit. I barely did better the next year, selling loads of firewood, hay, and straw. Even after switching to organics a few years later, I’d often make a paltry fifty dollars at local farmers’ markets. I was now several years in, and I hadn’t even made my first paycheck! But something inside me insisted that I stick with it—that growing healthy food for my community was simply too important to abandon. Somehow, I simply had to figure out a way to make it work.
“Then, finally, it happened. First one customer, then another, found their way to my farm. I converted to rotational grazing, and my pastures doubled, even tripled in annual yields. Another year passed, and I finally had enough money to buy some fence posts, a reliable pickup, and even pay myself a salary. For the first time, there was money sitting in my bank account. It had taken an entire decade of failures and mistakes, but my youthful farming dreams had finally come true.
“It was quite the journey! Now, all of these stories, lessons, and solutions are collected in Start Your Farm. Along with Ellen Polishuk, a sustainable vegetable farmer with thirty years of hard-won experience, we’ve shared all the tips, tricks, and big-picture strategies we learned along the way. Beyond all of the hard work, farming should be fun, joyful, and profitable as well. It takes a dreamer, and it takes all the courage you can give it. But when you have a successful farm, there’s no greater feeling in the world. In Start Your Farm, we’ll show you how to do it.”
“Start Your Farm” hits bookstores on September 4. If you want to be one of the first to get it, you can pre-order it here (and On Pasture will get a small percentage to keep us online).